Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit Brittany (Bretagne) France
La Bretagne – Brittany in English – is one of the most beautiful regions of France, with wild landscapes, historical cities, rich culture, and a strong identity. It is a region of tradition and character, where the stories of sailors meet the Celtic legends.
Brittany, in Western France, has a double face deeply rooted in both the land and the sea. Bathed by the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, Brittany offers breathtaking coastal landscapes. It is also a land of medieval towns, mysterious rock alignments, and deep forests full of legends.
The region of Brittany is divided into four departments: Côtes-d’Armor (22), Finistère (29), Ille-et-Vilaine (35), and Morbihan (56). The capital of Brittany is Rennes.
Are you planning a trip to Brittany, France? Our list of best things to do in Brittany is far from exhaustive, but it has the essential places to visit in Brittany and the main Brittany tourist attractions.
BY PLANE: Brest (BES) and Rennes (RNS) are the 2 major airports in Brittany. It is possible to travel to Brest and Rennes from other cities in France and some cities in the UK such as London, Manchester, Dublin, Southampton, Manchester, or Exeter.
BY FERRY: Brittany is well connected with the UK and Ireland through the ports of Roscoff and St-Malo. The ferry companies serving these destinations are Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries.
BY TRAIN: Traveling to France by train is straightforward. The main cities of Brittany are served by TGV trains from Paris and the south of France (Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille). It is also possible to travel to Brittany by train from England, taking the London-Rennes or London-Brest railway line.
You can explore many other places in Brittany by regional trains (TER Bretagne).
Brittany is a great place for memorable France road trips. With a car, some good tunes, and the best company, you are set for one of the best adventures in your life. Visit the main cities and then go off the beaten path to get the most out of Brittany.
Recommended road trips in Brittany:
If you don’t have your own car, we recommend booking in advance through platforms like Discover Cars. This site takes all of the major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, etc., and compares prices for you.
What to Do in Brittany France
What to do in Brittany France for one week or two? This is our list of the best things to do in Brittany, France. From coastal walks and Corsaire cities to impressive castles and deep forests, the Brittany Region is a myriad of landscapes and sites waiting to be discovered.
The Alignments of Carnac (Karnag)
The alignments of Carnac are located in Morbihan, Southern Brittany. It is an exceptional site of megalithic alignments of more than 3,000 menhirs over more than 4 kilometers. These menhirs, erected between 6,000 and 2,000 AD, are found in four sites: Le Ménec, Kermario, Kerlascan, and Le Petit Ménec.
Take the time to wander around the giant stones and soak up the special atmosphere of the site: perhaps you will find the meaning of all these alignments!
Before leaving, check out the Kermario alignment, not far from Carnac, in Saint-Colomban: archaeologists have found along the coast the oldest forms of habitat, 300,000 years old!
A Romantic Getaway to Dinan
If you are wondering where to go in Brittany for a romantic getaway, Dinan is a good option. Overlooking the Rance River and surrounded by ramparts, the old medieval city of Dinan still keeps its half-timbered houses of the 15th century and its winding cobbled streets.
Visit the Clock Tower, the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur, and the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. Then take Jerzual street, the most famous street of Dinan, which goes down to the port on the Rance River. This is the perfect spot for a drink with beautiful river views.
TIP: Hotel Ibis Styles, in the heart of Dinan, has always great reviews
The Pink Granite Coast
On the side of Perros-Guirec in the northwest of Côtes-d’Armor, the Brittany coast is dotted with rocks, cliffs, and coves in pink granite.
The best way to discover the Pink Granite Coast is by taking the 4 km section of the Sentier des Douaniers coastal hike (GR 34) that runs from the chic seaside resort Perros-Guirec to the village of Ploumanac’h. En route, be amazed by the rough sea, many uninhabited islets, and the reliefs of pink granite rocks.
When you reach the village of Ploumanac’h, voted the most beautiful village in France in 2015, spend some time on its beautiful and small sandy beach: when the tide is low, it is like walking over the moon.
Crozon Peninsula – The Caribbean in Western France
Who needs to travel far away with such beautiful landscapes in Western France?
Forming a gigantic cross in the sea, the Peninsula of Crozon (Presqu’ile de Crozon) offers Brittany’s condense. Its landscapes alternate spectacular cliffs, heather moors, and turquoise waters. As you can see, these Brittany beaches have nothing to envy to the Caribbean beaches, except perhaps the water temperature!
The Peninsula of Crozon is best explored from the sea so that you can see Crozon’s sandstone walls and rocky overhangs. Boats leave from the ports of Camaret or Morgat.
The Castles of Brittany
Brittany is full of castles and fortresses, located on the coast but also inland. The Castles in Brittany don’t look like the castles of France we all have in mind, but they are also stunning constructions worth visiting.
Discover the history of Brittany – independent of the Kingdom of France until 1532 – by visiting its most beautiful castles, full of legends. Some castles in Brittany even come with a phantom in the closet!
The list of most beautiful castles of Brittany includes Château de Rohan, Château de Kerjean, Château de Fougères, Château de Josselin or Château de Susscinio but there are many more!
The Sweet Life in Gulf of Morbihan
With its many islands and islets, its microclimate that warms the sea, and its sweet life, the Gulf of Morbihan is one of Brittany’s most beautiful landscapes to discover all year.
In this ‘little sea’ – this is what the word ‘Morbihan’ means – it is possible to sail or kayak to discover islands and islets protected from the vagaries of the ocean and some pretty Brittany coastal towns.
Among the fifty or so islands of the Gulf, Île aux Moines is the largest and best known, while the Île d’Arz is sailors’ favorite.
The Enchanted Brocéliande Forest
Inland, Brittany offers rugged hilly landscapes and majestic ancient forests, such as the mysterious and dark Brocéliande forest. This is a very authentic place, the forest where the famous legends of King Arthur, Morgana, and Merlin were born.
During your walks in the shade of ancient trees, you will have the opportunity to see some remarkable sights like the Tomb of Merlin, or the Tomb of the Giant and the Fountain of Youth, specially designed to illustrate the Arthurian legends.
Brocéliande forest is one of the best places to visit in Brittany, France, very easy to visit on a day trip from Rennes. For those without a car, we recommend taking a day tour.
Saint-Malo – The Corsair City
Saint-Malo is one of the most beautiful cities in Brittany, with an interesting past of sailors, sea explorers, and corsairs. It is an old port city, one of the main Breton ports, with high granite ramparts which dominate the English Chanel.
Take a tour of the ramparts to admire the view of the outer harbor, Dinard, the entrance to the Rance River, and the beautiful Brittany beaches of the Mole and Bon Secours. From here, you can also see the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé. Then walk downtown to pay a visit to its Romanesque-Gothic cathedral and perhaps stop for a crêpe and a bowl of cider.
If the tide is low, walk to Chateaubriand’s tomb on Grand Bé island. Originally from Saint-Malo, the famous inventor of Romanticism, François René de Chateaubriand, is buried on this uninhabited island which, at low tide, becomes a peninsula.
Saint-Malo is easy to reach from Paris by train. Some people use beautiful Saint-Malo as a base camp to explore Mont Saint Michel, in Normandy, on a day trip.
TIP: the beachfront Hotel Le Nouveau Monde, in Saint-Malo, always has wonderful reviews
Sail the Brest – Nantes Canal
Built in the first half of the 19th century and inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1858, the Nantes – Brest Canal connects these two cities through the valleys of the Erdre, Isac, Oust, Blavet, Doré, Kergoat, Hyères, and Alder.
The Canal is the perfect place to spend a long weekend on a houseboat, at a cruising speed of 6km/h – check out this boat trip itinerary with Le Boat France for inspiration. On the way, admire its wonderful landscapes, dotted with castles and other interesting sights.
Explore the Best Towns in Brittany
This list of the best of Brittany would not be complete without its most beautiful towns. Brittany is home to some of the best coastal towns in France, but there are many rural gems also inland. From small medieval towns stuck in time to flowered granite villages, places like Rochefort-en-Terre, Locronan, Moncontour, Sauzon, or Pont-Croix will likely steal your heart.
Hike the GR34 – Le Sentier des Douaniers
Last but not least, there is the GR34 (Le Sentier des Douaniers), a multi-day hike that borders all of Brittany’s coastline for over 2,000 kilometers.
This wonderful hike, which starts at the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel and ends in Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), covers most of the Brittany coastal towns and sites mentioned above. On the way, hikers cross five French departments while enjoying the best of Brittany: great views, gorgeous beaches, and isolated lighthouses.
Food in Brittany
We could not finish this article about Brittany without mentioning its cuisine. The Breton Cuisine is a fresh mix of mackerel and sardines, pork rillettes, and Breton pancakes. The Breton cooks with what he has on hand: flour, apples, pork, and butter. Lots of butter. Perhaps this does not sound very sexy, but despite that, Brittany has forged a true culinary identity in France.
Being bathed by the Chanel and the Atlantic Ocean, Brittany obviously offers a wide choice of fish and seafood. To have a taste of it, order the Breton lobster, clams, and mussels, or a plate of oysters with shallot sauce.
Apart from the fish and seafood, the list of regional specialties includes:
- Meat: Kig ha-farz (a dish of meats stewed in buckwheat stuffing, like a pot-au-feu);
- Vegetables: Artichokes, cauliflower,
- Crêpes and galettes: Breton crêpes, Breton galettes, sausage galettes;
- Cheese: Emmental
- Desserts: Far Breton (a flan-style custard cake), Breton cake, Kouign amann (a layered, buttery pastry), and pound cake.
Brittany is not the best region for wine travel, but the cider is amongst the most famous french drinks, and the Breton beer and some of its liquors won’t disappoint you!